Buying electronics in Hong Kong's legendary electronic shops that line Nathan Road and the Mongkok area is an age-old pilgrimage. Hong Kong has long been a prime destination for hawk-eyed shoppers to buy cheap electronics. Prices are not as cheap as they were ten or even five years ago, but if you are willing to take a chance on an independent retailer then there is money to be saved here.
Where you are buying from a computer center and the price is substantially cheaper be aware that you buying parallel imports. These are the official product but imported into Hong Kong unofficially. The practice is a legal gray area. We detail what some of the risks are with parallel imports in the tips below.
You should also distinguish parallel imports from good old-fashioned scams. While most of the independent sellers are honest brokers, the area does have its rogues.
Here are the do's and don'ts for buying electronics in Hong Kong.
Open the Box
If purchasing from a smaller shop, make sure you take away exactly what you bought. Under counter switches aren't as popular as urban myth makes out, but nor are they a myth. You should read our full guide to bait and switch in Hong Kong to make sure you don't fall for the scam. And be aware that in Hong Kong returns policies are almost non-existent.
This is a problem with parallel imports. Make sure the product is compatible with your home country, eg PAL/NTSC, Dual Band vs Tri-Band phones. Additionally, check the voltage is compatible unless you like your electronic equipment fried.
Is the product available in your home country? If it's not, repairing it in your home country will prove difficult and will make a not insignificant dent in your bank account.
If you are buying a parallel import then it is likely that the warranty from the manufacturer won't be valid at home. That means that if you have a problem, you won't be able to get a repair for free.
If you are heading to some of the smaller shops, be sure to get a base price from one of Hong Kong's major retailers, such as Fortress. This lets you know what price you're looking for and exactly what's a bargain and isn't. You're dealing in a foreign currency and sellers have been known to take advantage of tourists' poor knowledge of the HK$ to USD exchange rate.
This is a must in independent stores. Prices are usually set artificially high and if you don't bargain you may as well be mugging yourself. Having 10% off the price is an absolute minimum while 20% discount is what you should aim for.
If you feel pressured, walk away. There are plenty of other shops where you can part with your hard-earned cash. Besides, walking away will usually induce the seller to offer you a further discount.
Now you're armed with the tips and hints above, find where to buy electronics in Hong Kong to pick up a bargain.